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Central Alberta guest ranch gets boost from Travel Alberta

Running Reins Ranch received $250,000 for upgrades
One of the acorn-shaped cabins and the hot tub-equipped teepees available at Running Reins Ranch, which recently received a $250,000 Tourism Alberta grant to expand its business. (Contributed photo)

The owners of a central Alberta guest ranch who received a $250,000 Travel Alberta grant said the benefits will go beyond their fence line.

Janice Scott, who owns Running Reins Ranch with husband Terry Scott, said they will use the funds to make their two acorn-shaped cabins and two smaller “bunkies,” each with a hot tub-equipped teepee, into year-round getaways and to construct a dining cabin this fall at the ranch, about 20 km west of Big Valley.

Besides the work that will be provided to local contractors, the couple also plan to add three more staff to their team of five. The upgrade will also give them greater opportunities to showcase products from area producers and Delburne-area’s DNA Gardens, which has fruit picking, nursery trees, a farm store and is home to Delidais Estate Winery, which produces fruit wines.

“We’re really trying to find ways to bring all of that money back to our community in some way,” said Janice.

Terry feels the same way. “We’re super-pleased (the funding) has been a wonderful injection into the neighbourhood, community, the local economy and (created) new jobs.

“It’s great to see this type of thing in Red Deer County,” he said.

Janice said job opportunities are limited east of Elnora so creating new jobs is welcomed and go along with the couple’s goal of seeing dollars spent in Alberta.

“Then, hopefully, we have visitors that bring their money from other provinces and other countries here,” she said.

The Scotts started Running Reins in 2016 as a seasonal destination. Visitors can rent teepees for the summer and get a taste of rural living by having access to plots to grow garden vegetables and even get a taste of raising chickens or livestock. Classes are offered in everything from cheese making to bacon curing or guests can try their hand at axe throwing or zip-lining.

“For the people who live in the city, it gives them their own little ranch. So they all have their own tiny acreage and it is set up with gardens and they can have horse experiences and chicken experiences and different things like that.

“A lot of people who live in the city or who live in a condo, they don’t get to experience that hands in the dirt. They don’t get to pick a fresh egg out of the coop or pull a beet out of the ground. So we give them that experience.”

The cabins have been a more recent addition, with the first available in January. Each comes with an adjacent hot tub-equipped teepee. Saunas will be added to two of them using the Travel Alberta grant.

For the winter season, visitors can expect to warm up in their cabin or bunkie and enjoy their fire pit and hot tub before being served a five-course dinner following by breakfast in the morning. Snowshoeing, skating and sledding are a few of the activities available.

Tourism and Sport Minister Joseph Schow recently visited Running Reins Ranch to see how funding from Travel Alberta, which is the government’s destination management organization, was being put into action.

Schow said in a statement destinations, such as Running Reins “celebrate the richness and diversity of of Alberta’s rural destinations and provide a sustainable tourism experience for visitors to enjoy.”

Travel Alberta chief commercial officer called the Running Reins investment a “perfect example of how Travel Alberta is driving tourism growth in rural communities across the province.”

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